The Penguins were thrilled to sign Brandon Tanev to a six-year contract on the first day of free agency. "We're really happy about it," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "Everybody in the organization thinks very highly of him." On the ice, Tanev is a physical, fast and tenacious forward who's good on the penalty kill and will make the Penguins harder to play against. Get to know the 27-year-old Toronto native off the ice with this Q&A.
What is your hockey nickname?
I have a couple. My old college roommates called me Hossa. I'm not really sure how Hossa came along. It just kind of stuck when we were freshmen.
Then some of my old teammates in Winnipeg call me Rusty. When I signed out of college and went to Winnipeg, my gear was pretty beat up and my skates had gone through the ringer. They were beating rust out of my rivets and 'Buff' (Dustin Byfuglien) was going through my equipment and gave me the nickname Rusty. Ever since then it stuck. We've already got a Rusty here, so we'll look for something new (laughs). We've yet to come up with one here yet, but I'm sure it will happen shortly.
How did you first get started playing hockey?
Being from Toronto, I felt like I was on the ice when I was 2 or 3. My parents got us out there skating. Continued to play the game ever since then.
What's your family background?
Macedonian. Both grandparents are fully Macedonian and were born there. I have not been there, but I probably should go at one point.
How much do you look up to your brother Chris, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks?
A good amount. I feel like he sets a great example and is a pretty good role model for my younger brother and I. It's always nice to look up to somebody who's done super well for themselves and cares about everybody.
What's something people might not know about you?
I don't nap.
What does a game-day routine look like for somebody that doesn't nap?
I sit on the couch and watch TV all day. That's about it. I try to find a good movie or a show and just wind down and relax. But no napping for me.
What are your superstitions?
I don't really have any. I just go through the same routine in warmup for every game. If you want to call that a superstition, sure. But I'm a pretty simple guy before a game. I just tape my stick, do a warmup in the gym, play soccer and that's about it.
What do you do when you're not at the rink?
Watch TV. Maybe if it's nice enough, go play nine holes or go to the driving range. Try to go for dinner with one of my teammates or friends if they're in town. Just more or less relax. Go see a movie if there's a good one out.
What do you do on the plane?
I like to play cards. We played Schnarps in Winnipeg.
Who are your closest friends in the league?
I'd probably say Mark Jankowski on the Calgary Flames. He was one of my college roommates for many years. Then Kevin Rooney, who's on New Jersey. And a few of the guys in Winnipeg - Adam Lowry, Dustin Byfuglien, Jack Roslovic.
What would be your job if you didn't play hockey?
What was the best vacation you ever took and why? And where's the next place on your travel bucket list?
It would probably have to be when I did a trip with a bunch of friends when we graduated school (Tanev played four years at Providence College, helping the Friars win their first-ever NCAA championship in program history after scoring the game-winning goal against Jack Eichel and Boston University in the title game in 2015). We went down to Cabo. It was a nice sending-off for all of us before going on our separate paths. All 12 of us started together and all 12 of us graduated together. That was a nice trip. I'd like to maybe go to Fiji or Bora at some point in time in my life.
Do you have any pets?
I do not, no.
Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what's your order?
I don't really drink coffee, but if I have one I'll have a single espresso, black.
What's your ideal meal?
Probably start with a Caesar salad or maybe like a clam chowder if they have a soup there. Maybe some calamari to split with whoever I'm having dinner with. Then a steak and some vegetables. Maybe some sweet potatoes and a nice piece of cheesecake to finish it off.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Everything, from country to old-school rap, rap, Top 40. Whatever's on, I'm listening to. There's nothing in particular that I really choose. It's just variety.
Is there one movie you can watch over and over?
What's a TV show that you recommend to people?
What's the phone app you use the most?
Probably Snapchat with my buddies. We always have some funny snaps going back and forth. We have a bunch of friends in Europe, so it's always nice to see what they're up to.
What other sports are you into besides hockey?
Golf and baseball.
Who's your favorite MLB team?
The Toronto Blue Jays. They're not doing too well right now, but still have to support the hometown team.
Who's your favorite golfer?
Ernie Els. He's a little older.
What's the best course you've played?
A private course in the Hamptons called Sebonack. A friend of mine, his girlfriend's grandfather started the club and we were able to get out there and play.
And finally, what are your early impressions of Pittsburgh?
It's awesome. I'm very excited to be here. The organization, the team, everybody around has welcomed me with open arms. The city has been awesome too. I've been checking it out as much as I can day-by-day when we have a little bit of time here and there. I've been to a Pirates game. I've been on top of Mount Washington. Went downtown and kind of just walked around. Other than that, just slowly making my way around and trying to do as much as I can.